Contact: The New Deal
brings together all the key recent statutory and non-statutory changes affecting and informing this important area of the law.
- Provides a comprehensive guide to the new contact provisions contained in the forthcoming Children and Adoption Act 2006
- Covers developments in mediation, collaborative law and information provision and includes an evaluation of the new parenting plans
- Analyses the Private Law Programme, in-court conciliation and the important changes to the role and approach of CAFCASS
- Examines the developments in the court's treatment of contact cases in which domestic violence is alleged
- Summarises the main legal principles and relevant case law
- Provides an overview of the key research and sets out the rationale for reform
- Also addresses the topical issues of family court openness and the voice of the child
The text is supplemented by key statutory materials (including the Children and Adoption Act 2006).
- The Importance of Contact and the Need for Change
- From Past Prejudices to Present Priorities: A Brief History of Parenting Time
- Principles, Presumptions, Rights and Responsibilities: An Overview of the Current Law
- Alternative Routes to Better Solutions
- Towards a Better Court Service for Children
- Domestic Violence, Contact and the Courts
- Making Contact Happen: The Impact of the Children and Adoption Act 2006
- Beyond the Next Steps
- Deal or No Deal?
- Children Act 1989 (material parts, incorporating prospective amendments introduced by Children and Adoption Act 2006)
- Children and Adoption Act 2006
- Human Rights Act 1998
- United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child
- President's Guidance - The Private Law Programme
- The CASC Guidelines
- The HMICA Recommendations
- Compendium of useful organisations, addresses and websites
"a truly excellent book ... required reading for all in the Family Justice System"
from the foreword by the Hon Mr Justice McFarlane
"authoritative, comprehensive and well-written ... easy to read and to use"
Family Affairs - the magazine of the FLBA
"a timely and comprehensive addition to the family practitioner's library ... a book that should draw generous praise from all quarters"
Association of Lawyers for Children
"impressively wide-ranging ... penetrative ... rigorous ... user-friendly ... deserves the widest readership from all those, lawyers and non lawyers alike, who have an interest in the past and future of the family law"
"Contact Rights and Responsibilities and How Much Contact are a must read chapter"
Professional Social Work
"This book is simply compulsory reading ... all McKenzie friends and those representing themselves should have it. All judges and family lawyers should read it"
Families Need Fathers
"A fundamental tool for court practice as well as an interesting read ... Full of useful quotations, research and up-to-date-minute law, this is certainly a text to dip in and out of. In particular, the substantial appendices offer an excellent single point of reference"
Seen and heard
The division of parenting time represents the single biggest challenge to the family justice system today. But what the law knows as questions of contact and residence are far from being purely legal issues. Topical, newsworthy, complex and emotive, these are matters of genuine social debate and firm fixtures on the political agenda.
The last two years particularly have been marked by a vast amount of time and energy devoted to how best to meet this challenge; and, correspondingly, that period has seen an array of reforms, initiatives and developments in this field, including and culminating in the Children and Adoption Act 2006. Significant in their own right, they cumulatively represent the State’s wide-ranging response to that considerable challenge.
Through this book, we seek to draw together within one cover the key components of that response, which we have collectively termed ‘the new deal’ for contact. Our aim thereby is to provide a user-friendly guide to, and analysis of, the various means, statutory and non-statutory, by which the State is seeking to improve the situation for the children of separated parents.
In so doing, we in part draw on our own experiences as children law barristers who have acted for mothers, fathers, relatives and the children themselves, who have represented the intransigent, the flexible, the dogmatic, the indifferent and the wronged, and who have particular experience of the ways of the family court.
Before looking in more detail at the reforms and initiatives themselves, we have sought in this book’s first three chapters to establish the context in which they arise. We start by considering the impact and importance of contact and by examining how the current system of law in this regard has evolved, considering within the ambit of Chapters 1 and 2 the need and pressure for change. In Chapter 3 we then outline the guiding principles of the present law, which remain fundamentally unaltered by the changes that we later discuss, although we seek through that survey to identify the trends in the case-law which may in more subtle fashion be reshaping the legal landscape.
In the next four chapters, we look in some detail at the ways in which the State has acted. Appropriately, given the increasing emphasis on non court-based resolution, we begin by considering in Chapter 4 the options and developments in that realm, with particular focus on the promotion of mediation, the advent of collaborative law and the provision of information through parenting plans and otherwise.
In Chapter 5 we look at the improvements to and affecting the court system, aimed at bettering practice and procedure for the cases that do reach the court door – principally the Private Law Programme and its promotion of in-court conciliation and the new, changed role for CAFCASS.
In Chapter 6 our focus is exclusively on how courts deal with private law children’s cases in which the issue of domestic violence arises, and there we analyse the recent statutory and non-statutory developments in that important sphere. In Chapter 7, we then outline and discuss the changes to the Children Act 1989 geared to improve the facilitation and enforcement of contact orders, brought in by the Children and Adoption Act 2006.
It is essential, however, not to focus too narrowly and, in Chapter 8, we look at three broad areas where change will inevitably impact on how private law children’s cases are handled in the future – opening up the family courts, creating a single family court and the means by which the voice of the child is to be heard.
We conclude in Chapter 9 by providing our own views on what we have described as ‘the new deal’ for contact. We seek to understand its underlying philosophy, to examine the extent to which it does constitute a new and better deal for the children concerned and to analyse its prospects for success. The core relevant legal provisions and a compendium of useful organisations, websites and addresses are to be found within the appendices.
We write at a time of considerable debate about opening up the family courts. It is a debate that we welcome and one that has shaped the way in which we have written this book. This is not just a book for lawyers, but one for all those involved in the family justice system. We hope that all professionals working in that system will find it helpful, but also, and notwithstanding the inevitable drier aspects that we have had to cover, that the non-professional reader will find it sufficiently accessible to be of assistance too.
We cannot confidently predict whether the system, as modified, will significantly improve matters for the children who are its concern; only time will tell in that regard. But it seems plain to us that in some measure its success must depend on the knowledge, expertise and outlook of all those who look to guide and assist families through difficult and stressful times, and also on how those very families perceive and respond to the system that seeks to help them.
That in turn highlights the value of access to information – for the families themselves and for those who seek to shape their futures. Whoever the reader – be they legal or non-legal, part of the system or one affected by it – our primary aim is to help to increase awareness and understanding of what the State is trying to do to improve the lives of the children of separated parents and thereby to contribute to an ongoing debate of very real and widespread importance.
Jonathan Baker QC
(London & Oxford)
The publication of a book entitled Contact – The New Deal to coincide with the passing of the Children and Adoption Act 2006 might lead readers to conclude that the book is simply a short commentary on this modest but important new statute. Such a conclusion, whilst understandable, would seriously undervalue this work, which is much, much more than a book about a new Act.
The topic of contact between separated parents and their children is one about which headlines are generated and passions run high. Whilst much of the public debate is ill-informed and sensationalised, it is widely recognised that there is justification in the main thrust of the criticisms that are made of the present approach.
The arrival of a book which seeks to provide a detailed exposition of the historical, social, psychological and legal context within which this topic sits is extremely welcome. It has been thoroughly researched and written by four highly respected family law barristers, who are to be commended for mastering the wealth of background material and presenting it in such a clear and digestible style.
For the first time, this book draws together in one place each of the disparate developments and themes, both legal and non-legal, that impact upon the system’s ability to resolve contact issues in individual cases. Even those who feel that they know this topic well will find much within these pages that is either ‘new’, or at least makes better sense of what has gone before. Had Contact – The New Deal been available, it would have been an extremely useful resource for those involved in the development of the Children and Adoption Act 2006. Its arrival now, at the stage when a new approach to contact is becoming established, makes this truly excellent book required reading for all in the Family Justice System.
The Hon Mr Justice McFarlane
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